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Music City Beat – May 2018

Eddy Arnold’s 100th anniversary year . . . and he still holds Billboard’s #1 weeks record!

NASHVILLE — On May 15, the late and great Eddy Arnold entered the centenary of his birth, dating back to Henderson, Tenn. Upon his death, May 8, 2008, the Tennessee Plowboy was then 10 years and a week shy of his 100th birthday. Few have come close to his Billboard record of 145 weeks spent in the #1 slot, or his 92 Top 10 singles, 28 of which hit #1. Arnold began performing in earnest during the Great Depression, then spent three years honing his talents with Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys (1940-’43), before going solo. He was noted for tearful ballads like “Mommy, Please Stay Home With Me,” “Did You See My Daddy Over There,” “Rockin’ Alone (In That Old Rockin’ Chair),” “My Daddy Is Only a Picture,” “Mama and Daddy Broke My Heart” and “Little Angel With the Dirty Face.” But, of course, his third #1 in 1947 was his co-write “I’ll Hold You In My Heart,” which held the #1 spot 21 weeks, while his fifth #1 “Bouquet of Roses” became his longest charter: 54 weeks (19 of which were in top spot). Incidentally in 1948, only two singers scored #1 on the Billboard country charts all year: Eddy with five entries, “Anytime,” “Bouquet of Roses,” “Texarkana Baby,” “Just a Little Lovin’,” “A Heart Full of Love,” while Jimmy Wakely had only “One Has My Name,” 11 weeks. Arnold co-wrote 17 of his hits, eight of which were #1, among them “I’m Throwing Rice (At the Girl That I Love),” “Easy On the Eyes” and “That Do Make It Nice.” Oddly enough, Arnold has not been inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, though enshrined in the 1966 Country Music Hall of Fame, and thanks to an amazing comeback, earned the CMA’s first Entertainer of the Year trophy (1967). The Academy of Country Music bestowed its Pioneer Award on Eddy in 1984. In 2000, he was presented the National Medal of the Arts & Humanities in Washington, D.C. by President Bill Clinton, and in 2005 also honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Eddy charted an impressive 23 singles that boasted two-sided hits, that is Top 10 or better, many of which crossed into the pop charts. His highest pop charting, at #6 was “Make The World Go Away” (1965), also #1 country three weeks, and now a Grammy Hall of Fame Record. In 1956, Eddy did a rare thing for him, a duet with pop vocalist Jaye P. Morgan, “Mutual Admiration Society,” stopping just shy of Top 40 pop status. It was another 40+ years before his Top 20 duet with youthful LeAnn Rimes, tackling his Golden Oldie “Cattle Call,” charted Billboard in late 1999, but carried over into 2000, giving Eddy yet another chart decade conquered. Following his 2008 death, Eddy’s longtime label RCA released a single that month, “To Life,” which peaked at #49. This gave Eddy another country record of sorts, the longest span between solo chartings, nearly 63 years since his first Billboard entry “Each Minutes Seems Like a Million Years,” a Top Five charting June 30, 1945, backed incidentally with “Cattle Call” (a later #1 in 1955). At press time, we received a reply to our query wondering why Arnold was never inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, from spokesperson Jennifer Bohler, stating: “Thanks very much for getting in touch. I agree that Eddy is a deserving candidate and is among several hundred eligible Nashville songwriters and songwriter-artists that NaSHOF considers each year. They will begin the nominating process soon, and I’m told Eddy will be discussed again this year. Thanks again for suggesting Eddy be considered.”
      Bits & Pieces: Shania Twain, Canada’s gift to country music, created a twitter storm with her recent remark in a Guardian (UK) interview that if she could cast a ballot in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, “I would have voted for him because, even though he was offensive, he seemed honest . . .” After noting the resentment her quote stirred up among fans, sorta reminiscent of her hit “That Don’t Impress Me Much,” she quickly backtracked, claiming the reporter’s query caught her off-guard. The “Don’t Be Stupid” singer proclaimed: “As a Canadian, I regret answering this unexpected question without giving my response more context. I am passionately against discrimination of any kind and hope it’s clear from the choices I have made, and the people I stand with, that I do not hold any common moral beliefs with the current President.” Like American rapper Kanye West she sorta dug his “independent thought” though, but la West waded right through a riptide of criticism, especially among fellow blacks, via his recent twitter: “You don’t have to agree with Trump, but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” For sure, Kanye . . . Meanwhile, Shania Twain and Jake Owen have teamed as talent scouts for a new USA Network talent series Real Country set to film in Nashville this summer, spotlighting new acts competing for stardom a la The Voice. According to Twain, “It’s been an incredible year for me, releasing my new album and coming back to country music. I feel it’s time for me to add my own support in finding our greatest undiscovered talent.” Look out Blake Shelton! . . . What gives? Despite earlier estimates of the late Glen Campbell estate being over $50 million, his former accountant appointed by a judge here refereeing a court battle between the singer-songwriter’s heirs, took a tally and came up with an estimate of assets at less than half a million dollars. Stanley Schneider, who had also served as Campbell’s later life manager, was appointed estate administrator by Probate Judge Randy Kennedy last February. According to Schneider’s estimate, released in April, that total doesn’t include future royalties, citing “Appraisal needed” in this regard. Campbell died last August after suffering Alzheimer’s disease, and his will named wife Kim as executor. In it, she and five of his children were listed as beneficiaries, prompting three of his children by earlier marriages to contest the will. Previous court documents cited part ownership in the Arizona Diamondbacks ball team. Expect more fireworks over this latest report . . . Music may soothe the savage beast, but its sales also puts a smile on the faces of those who create it. According to the world’s leading performance rights organization – American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) – the non-profit agency reportedly paid out $1 billion in royalties to its membership of writers and publishers in 2017. That figure translates into a 11 percent jump in U.S. licensing revenue for the year, while distribution was also up, 10 percent.
       Honors: Attention Nashville visitors, exhibits still showing at the Country Music Hall of Fame include the Faith Hill-Tim McGraw display Mississippi Woman, Louisiana Man, thru June 10; Lynn Anderson salute, until June 24; Shania Twain, thru July 22; Loretta Lynn, closing Aug. 5; and American Currents, The Music of 2017, spotlighting major music happenings last year, citing such artists as Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Randy Travis and Chris Young, thru Feb. 9, 2019. Just opened: Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70s which focuses on that decade’s musical contributions from acts like Willie & Waylon, Jessi Colter, Tompall Glaser, Bobby Bare, David Allan Coe, Jerry Jeff Walker and Billy Joe Shaver. The tribute takes a three-year run to “explore this era of cultural and artistic exchange between Nashville and Austin, Texas.” . . . Songwriter Max T. Barnes, who started out primarily as a singer, is currently doing dates in Branson and Nashville, but recently wrapped a spring Steamboat Tour in the United Kingdom. One impressive stop made in Ireland, May 1, found Max accepting Hot Country TV’s annual International Artist of the Year statuette. The HCTV award is determined by public demand for the artist’s music over a period of time. “I am honored,” said Barnes. “I spent my whole life on Music Row, writing songs and now I am having a blast singing them all around the world! What a crazy life. I am blessed.” In his case, it’s like father, like son, as the late Max D. Barnes won favor writing such standards as “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,” “Chiseled in Stone,” “Don’t Tell Me What To Do” and “Look At Us,” prior to his passing in 2004. Max T. tunes include “Love Me” (Collin Raye); “At the Sound Of the Tone” (John Schneider); and “Way Down Deep” (Vern Gosdin). More recently, Max produced a new CD on Bobby Bare, and made a single and video duet with another second generation artist Marty Haggard, “Way Back In The Mountains,” a ballad their dads Merle and Max D. wrote over 20 years ago. Come July, Max T. returns to Ireland for further gigs, no doubt plugging his new album: “I Can Sleep When I’m Dead.” . . . Johnny Cash was a three-year-old when his parents Carrie and Ray Cash moved into what would be his boyhood home in Dyess, Ark., in 1935. Now it’s being declared a national monument, just added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. A five-room farmhouse built in 1934, amidst the Great Depression, it looked great to the hard-put Cash couple and their five children, who moved into their new home, then estimated at a worth of $1,000. Younger brother Tommy Cash (“Six White Horses”) didn’t come onto the scene until 1940, but it’s where he and Johnny grew up, and inspired big brother’s songs “Pickin’ Time” and “Five Feet High and Rising,” the latter concerning the 1937 flood that threatened the area. Arkansas State University is listed as the current owner of the historic acreage.
      Scene Stealers: Although Taylor Swift left a blossoming country career to enjoy the greater revenue of a pop music diva, she still keeps her hand in the country genre; witness the recently reunited Sugarland duo’s new duet “Babe,” which the superstar co-wrote with Pat Monahan (of Train). Actually, Swift even lends her vocals to their track, included on Sugarland’s CD “Bigger,” for which Sugarland’ers Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush co-wrote all the other tracks. Its release date: June 8 . . . Bob Dylan, who made such milestone Music City albums as “Blonde On Blonde” and “Nashville Skyline,” in 1969 there met Johnny Cash recording next door, and on a whim did a dozen or so duets with the Man in Black. Others in the genre who have recorded Dylan tunes include Eddy Arnold, Bobby Bare, The Everly Brothers, Willie Nelson, Kitty Wells, Elvis Presley, Emmylou Harris, Flatt & Scruggs, Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley and Old Crow Medicine Show. Now Dylan, who really digs Tennessee whiskey, is partnering in a new distillery here with Marc Bushala (known for his Angel’s Envy Bourbon), to produce craft whiskeys under the name Heaven’s Door. You may recall Dylan’s classic “Knocking On Heaven’s Door,” which he wrote and recorded for Kris Kristofferson’s 1973 Western film “Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid,” hence the name. Reportedly, the partners plan to get their machines mashing by 2019, in an old church building bought on Elm Street, Nashville. In a news release, Dylan explained: “We both wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that in their own way, tell a story. I’ve been traveling for decades and I’ve been able to try some of the best spirits the world of whiskey has to offer. This is great whiskey. I am happy to be partnering with Marc and our entire team as we bring Heaven’s Door to the public.” (Hopefully, it won’t turn into a Nightmare On Elm Street) . . . Bobby Bare celebrated his 83rd birthday April 7, but an unexpected “present” was an announcement he was being reinstated as a Grand Ole Opry member half a century after his cast membership “lapsed” (for not having kept up the then-required appearances quota). Following another guesting, Opry host Garth Brooks offered the surprised singer of such hits as “Detroit City,” “Four Strong Winds” and “Marie Laveau,” the opportunity to re-up. That prompted a quick affirmation by the legendary balladeer, who first found fame with a 1959 rockin’ pop ditty “All American Boy.” In turn, Bare proclaimed, “All of my friends are here and I’m glad to be back . . . I’m honored.” . . . Meantime another legend, Charley Pride, marked his 25th anniversary as an Opry member, with special shows, May 4-5. Congrats!
     Final Curtain: A-List musician-producer-songwriter Randy Scruggs, 64, died April 17, following an undisclosed, but brief illness. He was the son of legendary bluegrass banjoist Earl Scruggs, his personal hero, though he most resembled his mom Louise, the force behind her husband’s lengthy career dating from his days with partner Lester Flatt (Flatt & Scruggs). Randy, a multi-instrumentalist who excelled on both guitar and banjo, won the Country Music Association’s coveted Musician of the Year three times, two Academy of Country Music trophies, and decorated his mantle further with four Grammy Awards. Randy’s impressive songwriting credits include Earl Thomas Conley’s five #1’s “Your Love On the Line,” 1983; “Don’t Make It Easy For Me,” “Angel In Disguise,” Chance of Lovin’ You,” all 1984; and “Love Don’t Care (Whose Heart It Breaks),” 1985; Sawyer Brown’s near-Top 10 “Out Goin’ Cattin’,” in 1986; “Love Has No Right,” a Billy Jo Royal Top Five (1989); and Deana Carter’s 1997 #1 “We Danced Anyway.” Other artists recording his songs include Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs and Martina McBride.
“Just got the sad word that my long time friend Randy Scruggs has passed away. My most heartfelt condolences to Gary and all of Randy’s family. Music City has lost one of its finest pickers. Rest in peace my friend,” twittered Charlie Daniels. Sending a condolence, too, was another second generation artist Rosanne Cash: “So incredibly sad to hear of the death of my old friend Randy Scruggs. He was a brilliant musician and a sweet soul, and my first serious crush. My heart aches today.”
Born in Nashville Aug. 3, 1953, he was the second son of Louise and Earl, and subject of dad’s famed “Randy Lynn Rag,” while a toddler. Randy began his own public performances at nine on Flatt & Scruggs’ TV series. He and elder brother Gary and younger brother Steven also joined dad for a time in Earl Scruggs’ Revue, following pop’s breakup with Flatt. Later, Gary and Randy recorded two rockin’ 1970s’ Brother albums for Vanguard Records. [Gary’s romance with singer Gail Davies produced his son Chris, now a respected session musician and performer (BR5-49) in his own right. Sadly, Steve, 34, took his own life and that of his wife Elizabeth, in 1992, following marital troubles.]
Randy’s 1989 CMA Album of the Year award was for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Volume 2”; his 1995 CMA Single of the Year came for production on “When You Say Nothing At All” for Alison Krauss; and he performed similar magic for the 2005 Grammy-winning “Earl’s Breakdown” on another Nitty Gritty Dirt Band disc. Among others Randy’s produced are Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Iris DeMent and Toby Keith. Randy’s guitar stylings can be heard on albums for the Dixie Chicks, Vern Gosdin, Moe Bandy, Miranda Lambert and Rosanne Cash, most notably his acoustic licks on her #1 classic cut “Tennessee Flat Top Box” in 1987.
Artists gracing his solo debut CD in 1998, “Crown of Jewels,” included Rosanne, Roger McGuinn, John Prine, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood. A spin-off single from that acclaimed album was a duet with Mary Chapin-Carpenter, which she and he co-wrote: “It’s Only Love.” Yet another gem on that CD is “Passin’ Thru,” which he co-wrote and performed with Johnny Cash.
As Scruggs had noted, “The whole album is a reflection of my musical experiences. It is something that stems from my roots, influences that have piqued my interests and sustained me through the years. I wanted to put across a statement that was personal in terms of really looking inside myself, and saying this is who I am as an artist.”
Scruggs’ survivors include wife Sandy, daughter Lindsey, brother Gary and nephew Chris. Reportedly, a memorial service for Randy will be announced at a later date.
Rayburn Anthony, 80, a multi-talented singer-songwriter-musician, died while hospitalized, April 21, in Jackson, Tenn., where he’s also enshrined in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Despite that acclaim, Anthony made a mark as a country musician, touring with such traditional acts as Bobby Bare, Billy Walker, Melba Montgomery and Johnnie & Jack. He did perform some with rockabilly notables Carl Perkins, Linda Gail Lewis, and shared the studio mic with two country queens: Reba McEntire (“Easy”) and Kitty Wells (“Wild Side of Life”).
Initially as a writer, he and Gene Dobbins scored by landing the B side to Sandy Posey’s million-selling 1966 pop smash “Born a Woman,” with their co-write “Caution To the Wind.” After that he moved to Nashville, feeling he’d have a better chance career-wise. Indeed, Rayburn co-wrote two ASCAP hits for Billy Walker, “I’m Gonna Keep On Lovin’ You” and “Sing Me a Love Song To Baby,” both peaking at #3 on Billboard’s country charts in 1971 and ’72, respectively. His solo creation “I’m Gonna Leave You,” a duet featuring Melba Montgomery and Charlie Louvin, also charted in 1972. Other artists recording his songs include Faron Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Vern Gosdin, John Conlee, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and The Jordanaires.
Issued humbly on May 23, 1937 in Humboldt, Tenn., Rayburn was one of five boys and three girls born to Rosie and James Anthony. Rayburn credits elder brother Bob with encouraging his guitar pickin’, eventually joining his band wherein Bob played lead guitar and Rayburn rhythm guitar and did occasional vocals.
After meeting drummer W. S. (Fluke) Holland, famed as drummer for Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, at the Pineridge Club in the Memphis area, he landed gigs there. Fluke also introduced Rayburn to Sam Phillips, who auditioned him on piano and vocals, then decided on giving the newcomer a chance on his already legendary label, Sun Records. In 1959, he first recorded on Sun as Ray B. Anthony, notably a cut on the dated ballad “Alice Blue Gown,” and 15 additional tracks, usually with Fluke on drums, Eddie Bush on guitar. Mainly, however, he recorded as Rayburn Anthony on tracks such as “Big Dream,” “How Well I Know,” “There’s No Tomorrow” and “St. Louis Blues,” all later reissued on Bear Family Records.
A review of recordings by Rayburn indicate major labels – Polydor and Mercury – attempted to promote him as a solo artist, with pal Bobby Bare producing his in-your-face 1976 single “If You Don’t Like Hank Williams,” written by Kris Kristofferson; yet another name producer Jim Vienneau cut Rayburn’s “Baby Take It From Me” and “Shadows Of Love” in ’78; Jerry Kennedy produced his ’80 single “Cheatin’ Fire.” Randy Wood (Dot Records’ founder) produced Rayburn on his Bill Justis-arranged cover of “Stand By Your Man,” for the indie Ranwood Records.
Despite being well-traveled, touring such countries as Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and Croatia, Anthony found time to father seven children. Survivors include wife Keata Anthony; children Jeff, James, Sally, Austin, Kayli, Colin and Summer Anthony; stepson Jordan Wright; brothers Robert and Alton Anthony; sister Betty Flanagan; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Services were held April 25 at Arrington Funeral Home, with Dr. Philip Jett officiating. Burial was in Liberty Grove Baptist Church, Jackson, Tenn.